TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Inflation has been a major topic of talk throughout the United States this week – but what is it and how does it affect you?
Higher costs for the stuff you buy is just one part of inflation, which is a complicated way to say that a whole bunch of things are more expensive than they used to be. Prices change – they can go up or down – and right now, they’re up.
Right now, inflation is the highest it’s been since the 1990s, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some of the economic hardship the U.S. is seeing is also owed to the COVID-19 pandemic, where huge parts of the economy had to temporarily shut down – like tourism, travel and dining out. As businesses closed to accommodate quarantines, product producers also had to slow down while their workers took time off to recover from the virus.
Across the United States, the inflation rate was 6.2% in October, so things were 6.2% more expensive than October 2020. Basically, for every dollar you would normally have – if everything was a dollar, it would cost about $1.06 instead.
For every-day Floridians, the increased consumer prices mean gas costs, food costs and electric bills are all on the rise. The biggest cause of that, according to the White House, is rising energy costs.
Tampa’s consumer price index increased 6.1% over the 12 months leading into September, according to the BLS. But it’s not the worst inflation rate in the country, and is actually a point below the current national average.
In the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, we only have inflation data through September 2021, but a new report from BLS showed that other cities aren’t as well off as those in Tampa Bay. Atlanta has the highest reported inflation in the country, with prices 7.9% higher this October than October 2020.
Getting into the holiday season, when shopping increases and demand is higher than other parts of the year, Americans’ wallets are feeling the inflation crunch.
Compared to last year, the BLS reports that pretty much everything is 6.2% more expensive.
Rental prices are also up across Tampa Bay, with cities like Plant City and Bradenton seeing rentals cost as much as 47% and 48% more than they did in March 2020, at least according to ApartmentList.com’s latest rental data.
With holidays in mind, food costs are up 5.3% and energy is up a whopping 30%. From October to October, fuel costs rose 49.5% and the cost of electric was up 6.5%. Gas services, for heating and air, were up 28.1%.
Common groceries like meat, fish and eggs all got 11.9% more expensive, with beef going up even more at 20.1% and pork going up 14.1%. Christmas hams and beef for briskets are getting pricier, with BLS reporting the price change as the largest 12-month increase since December 1990.
For the fifth month in a row, October saw gasoline prices go up 6.1% while natural gas went up 6.6%, the largest monthly increase since March 2014. Higher fuel costs mean it’s more expensive to travel to see family during the holidays and higher energy means keeping homes warmer in the winter will cost more too.
All of this is happening as widely-reported supply chain issues continue and housing costs remain high.
Delayed shipping, empty shelves and smaller amounts for higher prices, are all making the inflation rate go up. Prices are also going up as businesses increase what they’re paying workers to meet the increased demand for products and services.
Still, inflation is here to stay for now, and it’s unclear if adding new jobs, hiring new workers or investing billions in developing new infrastructure will kick the inflation rate back down. At the end of the day, in Tampa Bay, the prices are still up.